MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — The nostalgic taste of summer is different for everyone. For one East Tennessee family, peach milkshakes bring back more than memories.
Beth Ann Smith remembers her mouth-watering every Fourth of July growing up, yearning for homemade peach ice cream.
"My great-aunt Merle would make homemade peach ice cream in the old ice cream churn, and it was delicious," Smith said. "Everybody looked forward to it."
With time, that taste started to fade until Smith picked up a Chick-Fil-A peach milkshake.
"My grandmother tasted it, and I think every time she drank one, the first thing she would say is, 'It's like drinking Merle's ice cream through a straw,'" Smith said.
Smith says her grandmother, whom she called "Granga" was the epitome of love.
"My grandmother Faye Rogers was the ultimate giver," Smith said. "She loved people. She taught school for over 30 years. She was the queen of hospitality. Pretty much anybody she knew had eaten a meal at her table."
To this family, giving to others is the best ingredient in life.
"She and my grandfather, her husband, lived life by the motto, 'Today, invest in someone else's happiness,'" she said.
For a woman already so sweet, Rogers still loved her summer treats. The peach milkshake became a staple in her summer diet. Since it's a seasonal shake, Rogers would count down the days until its return, like an advent calendar.
On her 97th birthday, she would hardly look at the cake. All she wanted was the peach milkshake.
"That was for sure one of the last peach milkshakes that she had because her birthday is July 28 and that's close to the end of peach milkshake season as we call it," Smith said. "It very well could have been the last peach milkshake she ever had."
Rogers passed away in March 2022.
"Mom and I had, for about a week, been sitting with her, holding her hand and singing hymns with her," Smith said. "The day before she died, we knew something was different. It was the first day that I held her hand and squeezed her hand and she didn't squeeze it back."
So when Chick-Fil-A announced in June the peach milkshake would make its return, Smith shared her story.
"I made a comment and said, 'My grandmother loved those peach milkshakes, she died in March, and so I'll drink as many as I can this year in her honor,'" Smith said.
The company reached out to her directly and sent her free shakes, coupons, and gifts. At the bottom of the package was a framed picture from Rogers' 97th birthday, enjoying the beloved peach shake.
"Someone had printed it out and put it in a peach-colored frame," Smith said.
The gesture touched her so much, that Smith shared the surprise on social media. It now has over 40,000 interactions.
"I know that she would not even be able to fathom this, that so many people had seen it," Smith said. "So many people had seen her picture, or had heard her story that would be above and beyond anything she could ever dream of."
Smith wears her grandmother's wedding ring on a necklace to keep her close to her heart. She also wears a ring her grandmother gave her as a gift to remember one of her favorite people.
"Even without her physically being here, she is going to live on, and a part of her love will live on for my family and for my kids," said Smith.
Her love of giving is a life ingredient that won't fade.
Smith says she has yet to share any of the peach milkshake coupons with her kids because they aren't too fond of the peach flavor. She says that's fine with her because it means more nostalgia while the summer lasts.